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It is a difficult question. Overall, in terms of pure talent, I would say it was Natasha Chymreva (she was yanked from the tour by the Soviets around 1977). In second place it might be Lesley Hunt. Then it would probably be Manuela Maleeva, who I think never even reached a semi-final. There is also Lori McNeil. Then a player like Jo Durie, who really might have sneaked a slam-final appearance in 1983, which was her best year and was when so many top players were slumping (Austin, Mandlikova, Evert to an extent). Or Claudia Kohde-Kilsch against Martina in the 1986 French Open.
 

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Maleeva got to a couple slam semis I think-she even won the first set in one to Graf, but then got only 1 mofre game or something lopsided like that.

When she burst onto the scene in 1984 I would have bet money on her getting to the final of French at least, so my vote goes to her!
 

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Maleeva got to a couple slam semis I think-she even won the first set in one to Graf, but then got only 1 mofre game or something lopsided like that.

When she burst onto the scene in 1984 I would have bet money on her getting to the final of French at least, so my vote goes to her!
Both Manuela and Amanda Coetzer reached rankings of no. 3. To get that high (play as long as they both did) and not reach a slam final probably gives them the nod.
 

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Manuela Maleeva, definitely. She is the only candidate to consistently rank in the top 10 during her career and just never break through at the Slams. Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, her contemporary, is close, but was consistently ranked below her and didn't stay at the same level later in her career. Amanda Coetzer really only had one big breakthrough year where she pushed to #3, but spent almost her entire career outside the top ten.

Two earlier players who deserve mentioning are Annette VanZyl DuPlooy of South Africa and Julie Heldman. VanZyl was close to the top 5 in the mid to late 60's and made 3 Slam semis, but like many of her countrywomen got married and didn't play as regularly afterward. Heldman also made 3 Slam semis and was #5 in the world. She had several years in which she only played part-time and so she is in and out of top ten lists. She was probably a bigger threat to those above her than any of the players mentioned in this thread and had wins over Court, King, Richey among others. Richey mentioned her and Ann Jones as her most difficult opponents to play.
 

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I was also thinking of Julie Heldman. One particularly talented player of the 1980s was Bettina Bunge, who definitely had the game to make a grand-slam final. Carling Bassett is another possible.
 

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Manuela Maleeva, definitely. She is the only candidate to consistently rank in the top 10 during her career and just never break through at the Slams. Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, her contemporary, is close, but was consistently ranked below her and didn't stay at the same level later in her career. Amanda Coetzer really only had one big breakthrough year where she pushed to #3, but spent almost her entire career outside the top ten.
Manuela would be the best player never to reach a slam final if considering her consistency and longevity in the top 10. Out of the three Coetzer was the closest to getting there and Claudia reached the semi's 4 times compared to Coetzer 3 and Manuela, 2.

Amanda really should've beaten an unwell Iva Majoli in the French Open semis 1997 when Iva won it - lost 7-5 in the 3rd. And she had a close semi with Anke Huber in the 1996 Australian, 6-4 4-6 2-6.

Claudia was good enough to win the 2nd set of her semi against Hana 6-0 in the 1987 Australian but just couldn't sustain things in the 3rd.
 

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Mentally, I would go with Manuela. She had intangibles that people who get to slam finals have. I think her biggest problem was that her game was designed to beat Chris and Martina. But once 1989 rolled around, she was not prepared for what tennis evolved into.

She and her husband were smart enough to see that she needed more upper body strength and she needed to become more aggressive earlier in a point. By early 1990, you could see the progress that she was making. She was becoming a bigger threat on hard courts and indoors, but her results at tournaments she normally did well in began to suffer.

Maleeva was tough. The circumstances under which she made the US open semis in 92 with her thumb injury prove that. I just wish that she had seen the changes needed back in 1986 when she started to stall out from her excellent 1984 results. It may have made a difference for her earlier.
 

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Great post!
 
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